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October 29, 2011

With an eye at improving Firestone Indy Lights racing, Team E owner Neil Enerson brought new technology to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Chris Griffis Memorial Test.

Enerson’s Team E’s No. 17 car was outfitted with the Pro-Shift’s P3 Paddle Shift system for the Indianapolis test after Conor Daly and Rusty Mitchell put the system through a shakedown test at Sebring on Oct. 24.

“Team E asked if they could add the system to the car to demonstrate how it worked,” said Roger Bailey, executive director for Firestone Indy Lights. “We allowed them to do this because letting all the teams see how it works will allow us to determine if we add the system to our cars.”

Enerson discovered the cost-effective paddle shift system while racing a Formula 1000 car with his son R.C., an up and coming racer.

“It’s something that we thought as a team owner, that we thought that teams really need to move the series forward,” he said. “I found out that (Pro-Shift) made a system with the same gearbox in Europe for the last couple of years and the system is reliable and the system is inexpensive, bolt-on and all drivers are talking about how they can keep both hands on the wheel and focus on the course. We just hope it’s something INDYCAR wants to adopt.”

Mitchell joined Firestone Indy Lights veteran Joel Miller and 2011 Star Mazda champion Tristan Vautier split time in the car during the two-day test at Indianapolis. The drivers had rave review for the way it worked in the car.

“The paddle shift in the car makes driving the car really nice, and not just because it’s safer and it is because you keep both hands on the wheel,” said Miller, who spent his first day testing a Firestone Indy Lights after competing a few races in 2010 and 11.

“The downshifts and upshifts are so smooth. The better drivers are going to find a way to make it faster, so it won’t take the driver out of the equation. It’s a good addition to the car.”